City Council weighs in on eviction ban

Santa Clarita City Hall, as pictured on February, 26, 2020, is located on the 23900 block of Valencia Blvd. Dan Watson/The Signal

A prohibition on residential and commercial evictions in Santa Clarita as the effects of the COVID-19 crisis unraveled came without hesitation for City Council members, but as the economy has reopened they found themselves Tuesday making a difficult decision. 

Pulled from the consent calendar for a separate vote as suggested by Councilman Bob Kellar, the council had to decide whether to extend the city’s temporary ban on evictions of tenants arising from the financial impacts of the pandemic and rent payback provisions through Sept. 30 after its initial adoption on March 31. 

They voted 3-2 against extending the city’s ban, with council members Laurene Weste, Bob Kellar and Bill Miranda casting “no” votes, ultimately allowing the moratorium ordinance to expire on Aug. 31. This means that, while Santa Clarita’s eviction order expires Monday, renters would still remain protected under Los Angeles County’s rule, which expires Sept. 30 may be extended by the Board on a month to month basis.

“I would be glad to assist here with voting one more time for an extension but at some point, you got to say to yourself, ‘How long could you do this?’” said Weste. “You just keep telling people not to pay their bills. I mean, this city can’t survive that way, county can’t survive that way. It has an unintended consequence and we need to look at all of those consequences.”

Councilwoman Marsha McLean said that while she agreed that the bans would have to halt at some point, extending the order would mean the city could continue with its own payback provisions — nine months for deferred rent — rather than the county’s 12-month period. 

Besides the potential countywide moratorium, which would apply whether or not a local eviction order exists, there is also a court order in effect prohibiting the commencement of new eviction cases, according to City Attorney Joseph Montes. He said pending legislation in Sacramento, such as Assembly Bill 1436, would provide eviction protection and rent deferral on a uniform statewide basis. 

Mayor Cameron Smyth said he supported the extension as some state and county developments are expected to occur next month. 

“I would certainly support extending this through one more time and then let some of the actions from the state and then the county and others to provide us a little more clarity,” he said. 

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